Why one more statewide lockdown is not likely also as Colorados coronavirus situation intensifies daily

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Coloradans are more likely to encounter someone with coronavirus now than at any point during the pandemic, state health officials say. Hospitalizations because of COVID-19 have surged to a new high. The state’s health care capacity is at risk of being overwhelmed in a matter of weeks.

Yet Gov. Jared Polis has declined to place Colorado under statewide lockdown status as he did in the spring, when the prevalence of coronavirus appears to have been less than it is now. 

“This is not about lockdowns. It hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive, balanced approach that’s not being implemented,” Polis said in an interview with The Colorado Sun, echoing Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force.

Polis said he feels it’s a matter of ensuring Coloradans follow the public health recommendations he’s been harping on for months.

MORE: Coronavirus is circulating in Colorado at its highest rate since the pandemic began, health officials say

“At this point, people know what they need to do to contain the virus,” Polis said. “How do we know that? They did it in August. We avoided that second wave that hit the Sun Belt.”

The Sun interviewed Polis and Colorado’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Rachel Herlihy, about why they aren’t pursuing another statewide lockdown and how they plan to tackle the most recent surge of COVID-19 in the state. Here’s what they said:

Why Polis feels a statewide lockdown isn’t appropriate now when it was in the spring


The latest from the coronavirus outbreak in Colorado:

  • MAP: Known cases in Colorado.
  • TESTING: Here’s where to find a community testing site. The state is now encouraging anyone with symptoms to get tested.
  • STORY: Coronavirus is circulating in Colorado at its highest rate since the pandemic began, health officials say


Another lockdown isn’t warranted, Polis said, because of the advances Colorado and the world have made toward understanding and managing coronavirus.

“We’re learning a lot more,” Polis said. “In March and April, we had very little testing. Negligible testing relative to the size of the infection rate. Quite literally, it was impossible to find out who was contagious. It was impossible to screen asymptomatic people out from working in nursing homes and as first responders.”

Now, Colorado has the capacity to test tens of thousands of people a day between the state’s own lab and private testing providers.

MORE: Colorado’s coronavirus test positivity rate, a crucial metric, may be off

Treatment protocols for COVID-19 have also dramatically improved, driving down death from where it was in the spring, Polis said.

“The fatality rate for people who were hospitalized was around 20%. One in five who entered the hospital in March and April didn’t make it out,” he said. “Now that’s down to about 5%. Still very deadly, still tragic for many families. But one quarter the fatality rate of the initial wave.”

Finally, Polis said Colorado’s hospital capacity — both in terms of supplies and beds — has been dramatically expanded since the spring. That includes emergency care sites, like the field hospital built at the Colorado Convention Center, and also internal work hospital systems have done to prepare.

Gov. Jared Polis speaks to reporters at the governor’s mansion in downtown Denver on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

The governor said one persistent issue is the shortage in health care personnel. 

Dr. Herlihy, who works for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, agreed with Polis’ assessment.

“Our understanding of this virus has really evolved in the last couple of months,” she said. “So have the tools in our public health and health care toolbox.”

How much does the economy factor into the governor’s decision-making?

The governor said he considers both health and economic impacts when imposing new coronavirus restrictions, though oftentimes they go hand in hand, especially when it comes to lockdowns.

“Lockdowns are not healthy for people,” he said. “I think we knew that in March, but we had to take the lesser of two evils given where we were.”

The adverse effects include mental health challenges as well as people’s tendency to avoid routine medical care.

MORE: What’s Working: As coronavirus cases increased, so did the number of Coloradans filing for unemployment

“It’s a very blunt instrument,” he said. 

A new lockdown could also lead to more job losses, and that has implications ranging from people becoming homeless to Coloradans not being able to buy groceries, he said. 

“It’s all part of the larger public health picture,” he said. “… The public health toll and the economic toll of lockdowns is extensive.”

Is a statewide lockdown 100% off the table?

No, Polis said. But it appears to be very unlikely.

Polis said he would really only consider implementing another statewide lockdown if Colorado’s health care capacity starts to get overwhelmed. That hasn’t happened yet and the overflow capacity the state spent millions of dollars building hasn’t been utilized. Some of the overflow sites have even shut down.

“Look, if the Convention Center is filling up and there’s not enough beds, then we simply look at the lesser of two evils and the calculation might change,” Polis said. “Certainly I share the goal with everybody in Colorado to avoid a lockdown, really, however we can.”

Lt. Col. Larry Dale Caswell, Albuquerque district commander for the Army Corps of Engineers, speaks to reporters on Friday, April 10, 2020, in the Colorado Convention Center, which is being turned into a makeshift coronavirus hospital. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Right now, he is focused on deploying as many tools as possible — increased testing, better treatment protocols, contact tracing, less-serious restrictions — to prevent the state from reaching the point where a lockdown may be needed.

Adams County, Denver and Pueblo have enacted overnight curfews. Will that work?

Even if a statewide lockdown doesn’t happen, a number of cities and counties could be forced to shut in their residents if coronavirus caseloads and hospitalizations keep increasing. State health officials have made it clear that they don’t want that to happen, so they’ve endorsed other, new approaches.

One of those approaches has been the overnight curfew. In the past two weeks, Adams County, Denver and Pueblo have enacted them in an attempt to stave off a lockdown and drive down cases.

“We want to do everything that we can to avoid (a lockdown),” Bob McDonald, head of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, said Friday as he announced Denver’s 30-day curfew. 

But at the same time, McDonald didn’t provide proof that the strategy would work and conceded that the city has tried many things to drive down coronavirus cases and hospitalizations and they haven’t worked.

MORE: Denver orders city residents to be home by 10 p.m. in attempt to slow coronavirus

Herlihy said she’s hopeful the curfews will be effective because case numbers are growing fastest among people in their 20s and 30s. 

“We do know that population is the group of individuals that is, probably, most likely to be out in the evenings, to be socializing, to potentially be in households or bars or other locations where transmission could readily occur,” she said. “We also know when alcohol is involved that individuals’ judgment can lapse and that can certainly contribute to risky behavior and transmission of the virus.”

What about the confusing county-by-county approach?

Throughout the pandemic, Colorado has battled to keep people informed as cities and counties enact area-specific rules aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. What may not be allowed in Denver, may be OK in Aurora. 

Polis acknowledged this during a recent news conference, saying that people across the state should be taking as many precautions as possible and not trying to find local loopholes or exceptions.

“Nobody should be staying home and not socializing because they are in this county or that county,” he said. “You should be doing it everywhere in our state right now. Cancel your plans to see others who are not in your household for the next few weeks. Put them off.”

Medical staff from Denver Health Medical Center administer a free drive-up COVID-19 testing in the parking lot of Abraham Lincoln High School in Denver on November 7, 2020. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

That said, when Polis announced Colorado’s first statewide lockdown on March 25, he did so, in part, because of conflicting rules across the state. He worried that if people in Denver were ordered to shelter in place and people in Weld County weren’t, it would create a situation where Denverites would crowd into Weld County. 

“More and more people are going to fewer and fewer stores and retailers in fewer and fewer locations, creating a greater public health crisis,” he said at the time.

This is also worth noting: The governor has in the past cast doubt on the efficacy and enforceability of implementing certain COVID-19 restrictions only to turn around and enact them days later. That’s how the first statewide lockdown came about, as well as Colorado’s statewide mask-wearing mandate.

Should people still feel safe to patronize businesses?

The governor is now urging Coloradans to avoid interacting with people outside of their households for the next few weeks. 

So does that mean people should stop patronizing businesses and visiting restaurants?

Polis says no.

“The science shows that the biggest risk for transmission is if you’re in that 10- to 15-minute range within six feet of somebody,” he said. “That is what happens in a normal social environment. When you see your friends, you’re with them for more than 15 to 20 minutes. You might be with them for a few hours. That is a much greater risk than going to a clothing store and buying a shirt and checking out while you’re wearing a mask and the person behind the counter is wearing a mask.”

With an outdoor mask mandate in the city of Denver, the majority of visitors to shops and restaurants along W. 32nd Ave. in the Highlands neighborhood were abiding by the rule on November 7, 2020. (Kathryn Scott, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Polis said for people who still want to patronize restaurants, the most important thing is to not go with people outside of your own household.

“If you’re meeting four other people from four other houses, you are increasing the likelihood of you getting the virus exponentially. That’s what we want to avoid,” he said. “Going out with your family: low to medium risk. The higher risk is if you’re interacting with people from different households in sustained ways, especially indoors.”

How is Colorado’s contact-tracing system handling thousands of new cases each day?

Colorado health officials’ goal has been to contact trace up to 500 coronavirus cases a day. Since Oct. 14, the state has had a seven-day average case count in excess of 1,000. 

In recent days, there have been more than 3,000 new cases reported.

“There certainly is strain on our public health systems,” Herlihy said. “There’s strain on our contact-tracing systems.”

Herlihy said that’s what makes the new Exposure Notifications Express smartphone system being offered to Coloradans so critical. It can alert people to when they’ve been exposed to someone who later tests positive for coronavirus and does the work of a contact tracer automatically. 

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via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/09/colorado-coronavirus-lockdown-jared-polis/

Opinion: Why Bay Area technology workers need to relocate to Denver

Colorado News

For the last several decades, whenever someone mentioned the tech scene, you probably imagined Silicon Valley. Born from the counterculture scene, the favorable distance from East Coast headquarters as well as the weather, quality of life and proximity to elite universities, it’s no wonder a booming tech scene grew.

With the explosive growth in tech the last two decades, however, there came the predictable problems. Real estate and rent prices in the San Francisco Bay Area are among the highest in the world. In fact, the average selling price for a home in San Francisco proper is $1.4 million and rising. Even with lucrative tech salaries, many simply cannot afford to live in the area.

James Eberhard

With the rapid expansion of fiber optic networks and the rising demand for cloud computing, tech companies have begun expanding to other areas of the country. Denver, in particular, has rapidly become a favorable destination for tech workers, Silicon Valley corporations and tech startups.

According to Zillow, the average selling price for a home in Denver proper is just over one-third of the cost in San Francisco. Denver typically has a higher inventory of homes for sale, and  property taxes are lower than in the Bay Area. 

Additionally, a top 15 public transit system, an international airport and a bike-friendly city combine to make commuting between all of Denver’s neighborhoods (and air travel) convenient. 

To put it simply, your money goes further in Denver.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Denver is experiencing job growth across the board but shines brightest in tech. In recent years, the Denver area has maintained 2%-3% job growth in year-over-year percentages for technical jobs. 

According to Flatiron School, outside of the Bay Area and Seattle, Denver boasts the highest percentage of developers per thousand jobs. Furthermore, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment estimates a 33% growth (almost 10,000 more tech jobs) by 2027.

As a central hub for the West, tech companies have taken notice of Denver, and within the last few years, the FAANG crew (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google) have all opened offices in the city. Newsworthy tech company Palantir announced it was moving its headquarters from the Bay Area to Colorado to distance itself from the “engineering elite.”

In addition to the plethora of household-name companies opening offices, Denver has a thriving tech startup scene. In 2019 alone, nearly $1 billion was invested in Denver alone across 150 startups. As further incentive, developer salaries are competitive with the Bay Area, with the average salary for a software engineer coming in well north of $100,000 per year. Comparable wages, ample opportunities and a lower cost of living make Denver a city to be reckoned with when choosing where to live.

Tech workers are uniquely suited for remote work. Many organizations are taking advantage of a worldwide talent pool by allowing their workers to live anywhere in the world. 

In 2020, COVID-19 launched the great work-from-home experiment, and companies are taking note of just how successful it can be. For instance, Microsoft has announced that it is making remote work a permanent option for its employees. Many other tech giants are following suit.

Combining the growing amount of remote work opportunities with the hot local job market, the icing on the cake is that Denver was voted No. 2 of the 150 best places to live in the United States for 2020-2021. With about 300 days of at least partial sunshine a year and every outdoor activity imaginable at your fingertips, it’s no wonder that Denver has become a haven for young professionals. In fact, millennials are currently the largest demographic in the metropolitan area.

Denver is also world-famous for its beer scene, whether that’s a major-label beer like Coors or one of the countless craft breweries found in the area. If sports are your thing, Denver offers all four major professional sports and features an MLS franchise.

As a tech worker, you have many options on where to live while growing your career and starting a family. Denver offers a lifestyle that is absolutely unmatched all the while providing opportunities to develop your career. 

You don’t have to be confined to the Bay Area — visit Denver to see the collaborative and energetic culture that the city has to offer. Once here, you’ll want to stay.

James Eberhard is the CEO and founder of Fluid Truck, a technology-based truck rental platform based in Denver.

The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to opinion@coloradosun.com.

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  • Why another statewide lockdown is unlikely, even as Colorado’s coronavirus situation worsens each day
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  • Colorado, two other states pass amendments clarifying that “only citizens” can vote

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/09/tech-denver-opinion/

Did you miss our previous article…

Are Colorados backcountry skiing tucks away profession tricks? A snowcat outfitter suing a previous guide claims they are.

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Stephen Bass approached Andy Sovick last year with a plan for writing a guide to snowmobile-access skiing around one of the most popular backcountry destinations in Colorado: Buffalo Pass near Steamboat Springs. 

Bass, a ski patroller at Utah’s Powder Mountain ski area and a guide for two seasons with Steamboat Powdercats, said the book would “help organize crowds and help move people around more safely.” He said he wanted the book to offer not just route names and navigational tools, but “unwritten etiquette rules” about accessing public lands that are used by a commercial outfitter. 

Sovick’s Beacon Guidebooks offer detailed photos, maps and terrain tips to popular backcountry ski zones in Washington as well as ski lines around Crested Butte, Silverton and Berthoud Pass in Colorado. He said authors who approach him often focus on areas with “lots of traffic, lots of users and lots of confusion.” 

“I said awesome, let’s write a guidebook because this area needs one,” Sovick said.

Steamboat Powdercats, which has ferried skiers into the powdery terrain around Buffalo Pass for almost 40 years, doesn’t see the guidebook as helpful. In a lawsuit filed seeking to temporarily halt publication of the guidebook, the company argues Bass, who left the company on good terms last year, is using proprietary information and “trade secrets” for personal gain.

Steamboat Powdercats is not looking to limit access to Buffalo Pass and it’s not necessarily seeking to permanently quash publication of the guidebook, the company’s attorney Tony Clapp said.  

“What’s really concerning,” Clapp said, “is that the guidebook for that area has too much information and will give a false sense of confidence to the potential user and could very well lead to trouble in the backcountry versus enjoying the backcountry.”

Parking at the Buffalo Pass trailhead has been a pinch point for the increased traffic at the popular backcountry destination. This shot is from April this year. (Provided by Steamboat Powdercats)

Sovick and Bass have spent the past several months assembling the book. Earlier this year they sent drafts to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Forest Service officials, local backcountry groups and Steamboat Powdercats, which has had a permit with the Routt National Forest to bring guests into snowy terrain around Buffalo Mountain and Soda Mountain since 1983.

Bass was a guide for Steamboat Powdercats in 2018 and 2019. And the company did not like his plan to use the company’s names for runs, roads, pick-up and drop-off points and other information. 

Each of those access points, names, routes, entrance points and descents is economically valuable largely because the navigational information is not generally known and not easy to discover, reads the complaint filed earlier this month in Routt County District Court. Only Steamboat Powdercats employees, like Bass, have access to the information. 

“Defendant’s continued use of these trade secrets is willful and malicious, and Steamboat Powdercats is entitled to damages,” reads the civil complaint that asks the court to decide whether Bass is using trade secrets that could injure the company. 

“Honestly, my hunch is they don’t really care if we use their run names. I think they just don’t want the guidebook published for this zone,” Sovick said. “They are probably worried it might affect their product, which is fresh pow, and they are concerned it would increase traffic in the backcountry and ruin their business.”

The lawsuit troubles Sovick. Communities across the West are bracing for what will be a busy winter in the backcountry, driven in part by resorts potentially limiting access to ski areas due to the pandemic. Beacon maps and books offer insight into avalanche hazards and can be linked to an app that backcountry travelers can use on snow. 

“I’m 100% certain we can prevent deaths by communicating proper information about avalanche terrain,” Sovick said. 

Steamboat Powdercats — with the company’s snowcat seen in the left side of this photo — shares roads and runs on Buffalo Pass with a growing number of skiers and snowmobilers. (Provided by Steamboat Powdercats)

Steamboat Powdercats’ permit with the Routt National Forest is not exclusive, meaning they cannot close areas to public access. They do not perform avalanche mitigation with explosives. When the company builds a snow-packed road using snowcats to access pick-up and drop-off points for their skiers, they do not have exclusive use of that road, said Aaron Voos, the public affairs specialists for the Medicine Bow – Routt National Forests. 

The company’s director, Eric Deering, said the lawsuit is about proprietary information and not about shutting down publication of a guidebook. They tried to reach out to Bass to discuss the guidebook “and he never called us back,” said Deering, who directed questions about the lawsuit to Clapp.

The “primary issue” behind the lawsuit, Clapp said, is public safety. 

Using the names the company assigned to certain areas and runs could give skiers the impression that the zones are well-traveled, Clapp said. 

“When they really are only well-defined and known to the 17 or so people who work for Powdercats at any given time,” Clapp said. 

Some of the areas are “very tricky,” Clapp said, where people can easily venture into dangerous avalanche terrain.

“This isn’t like a guidebook you can use when you are going on a hike somewhere with marked trails and signs and waypoints and markers,” he said. 

Clapp said Steamboat Powdercats called Bass “to figure out how they could work with him to come up with a better way to understand this terrain.”

“It’s not about prohibiting use or stopping the development of a guidebook but to create one that didn’t use proprietary information that was created over years and years of experience in that area,” Clapp said. “This has to be clear. Powdercats has offered and is willing to work with Bass.”

Bass said he told Steamboat Powdercats boss Deering and longtime manager Kent Vertrees that publishing route names would help get the company, the public, the Forest Service and the local search-and-rescue team on the same page. 

“So if someone broke their leg in ‘Maneater,’ not only would Powdercats know where that was, but the skier with the broken leg and search and rescue would know where that was too,” Bass said. “It would be great to get all those run names out there in the community. In my opinion it would really solidify Steamboat Powdercats’ legacy on Buff Pass.”

Bass said when Vertrees called him back after receiving the first draft of the book, “he was pretty fired up.”

“He told me there’s just going to be so much rampant overuse of Buff Pass now and we are not going to have anything to ski,” Bass said. “I do understand that concern. They are looking at this from their eye as a commercial operator. I’m looking at this from the eye of the public. And it’s safe to say we are not seeing eye to eye.”

Buffalo Pass has seen increasing numbers of snowmobilers using the machines to ski. The increased traffic challenges Steamboat Powdercats, which ferries paying clients to remote snowfields. (Provided by Steamboat Powdercats)

Since the late 1970s, the local snowmobile group Routt Powder Riders has used state money collected from snowmobile registration to support trail grooming on Buffalo Pass. The group has worked with Steamboat Powdercats since the 1980s to help manage the private snowmobilers and share information about non-motorized areas and how to share the slopes with a commercial operation. 

In recent years, the snowmobile scene on Buffalo Pass has changed. It’s not just snowmobilers out for a cruise. More “hybrid” snowmobilers are using their increasingly powerful machines to access slopes for skiing. These skiers on snowmobiles use the machines to reach the top of remote lines, largely following roads builts by Steamboat Powdercats.   

“The biggest single problem is hybrid skiing is very, very popular on Buff Pass,” said Ed Calhoun, the eight-year president of Routt Powder Riders. “And when a sport becomes very, very popular it starts interfering with someone else. There are a lot more hybrid skiers using snowmobiles up there and that has probably given Powdercats some heartburn and I understand that. But I also understand the point of view of the public who want to go into the forest and explore their public lands.”

After receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Steamboat Powdercats earlier this fall, Sovick and Bass discussed making up new names for runs and roads. 

“It doesn’t have to be this way. We came with a peace pipe, asking them to help with the book, and they threw this bomb in my face,” Sovick said. “This is public land and names. We are talking about invisible lines on snow that we are drawing on a map. Not sure how you can claim ownership of something like that. The issue is they are trying to find a way to keep people from accessing our public land and they are exercising every tool they have.” 

Sovick said he takes responsibility for disseminating good information about avalanche terrain, backcountry etiquette and sharing the land with others. The book includes tips for snowmobilers about passing a snowcat, where they might encounter a snowcat and how to ski in an area where Steamboat Powdercats is bringing their guests.

“We work hard to be part of the backcountry community and make sure we are giving good information to readers. We try to be proactive,” Sovick said. “The issue should not be about keeping this area a secret. The issue should be how do we best guide people through this terrain.” 

Lou Dawson, a pioneer of backcountry skiing in Colorado, said search-and-rescue teams could be troubled if terrain features, runs and routes around Buffalo Pass had more than one name. 

“It’s disconcerting that snowcat operators would make the names their point of contention,” said Dawson, who recently wrote a 30-location guidebook for Beacon that details tours through low-risk terrain in Colorado. “It seems pretty likely that their main problem is they don’t want other people using that terrain. That’s a guess. But why else would they be so concerned about a guidebook?”

Buffalo Pass has been a relatively safe zone for backcountry skiing and snowmobiling, especially compared to steeper, more avalanche prone areas in the West Elk or the San Juan ranges. Even with heavy traffic, the area does not see many avalanche incidents or accidents.

“But this could create some public safety problems more than public assistance,” Clapp said. 

Steamboat Powdercats manager Vertrees has worked for decades with the Forest Service, human-powered skiers and motorized users in the area, helping to create a unique system that combines multiple recreational pursuits alongside his permitted snowcat operation. 

He was part of a winter task force in the early 2000s that helped the Forest Service come up with a plan for management of the area. A comprehensive environmental analysis by the Forest Service in 2005 included months of meetings with a winter task force of Buffalo Pass users. The final plan required skiers and snowmobilers to register for a permit to access a 7,300-acre area on the west side of Buffalo Pass. The plan also designates areas where only non-motorized use is allowed. The free permit — available at the trailhead and the local Forest Service office in Steamboat Springs — sets aside large areas where snow machines can’t go and designates specific routes for motorized traffic. 

The management system is similar to the one used at Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area. That plan, which coordinates motorized, non-motorized and commercial operations on the pass, was developed in the early 1990s by the Vail Pass Task Force and the Forest Service. Vail Pass has areas set aside for skiers, groomed trails for snowmobiles and has had fees for snowmobiles and other uses since 1998. The pioneering fee program costs motorized users $10 a day and $65 for a season pass.

Fees for motorized access around Buffalo Pass have been discussed, but the day and season passes for the area have remained free. The Routt County Recreation Roundtable, of which Vertrees is a member, still works to encourage collaboration between the various recreational interests around Steamboat Springs, including motorized and non-motorized winter users. 

“We are staunch proponents of public land,” said Vertrees of Steamboat Powdercats.

Steamboat Powdercats has sued a guidebook author over plans for a guide to snowmobile-accessed skiing on Buffalo Pass, where the snowcat company has operated since 1983. The company’s permit with the Forest Service does not give exclusive access and the area is seeing increased traffic. (Steamboat Powdercats)

Jon Miller has been snowmobiling and snowboarding on Buffalo Pass since the early 1990s.

“We used to be able to ride our snowmobiles anywhere back then. Now it’s a completely different world,” said Miller, the founder of Backcountry United, a nonprofit that works to connect human-powered and motorized backcountry groups with resources, avalanche education and stewardship projects. 

The snowmobile community on Buffalo Pass for years worked to avoid conflicts with Steamboat Powdercats and its clients, Miller said. But the sheer number of snowmobilers and backcountry skiers on the pass on snowy weekends has led to more congestion and parking issues, leaving Steamboat Powdercats employees as enforcers of rules.  

So while Miller described Steamboat Powdercats as “very territorial,” he said he can understand the company’s frustration with increasing crowds affecting the business. 

“They kinda operate like they own the place up there. And they don’t. It’s public land,” Miller said. “That said, I personally don’t want that guidebook to be published because we just don’t need any more traffic up there. I see this from both perspectives, I guess. I will say that place is a ****show right now.”

So maybe with a guidebook, people can be made aware of the issues and terrain up there and it won’t be such a circus, Miller said. 

“I wonder if the people who take the time to read the guidebook might be more respectful and try to know as much as they can before they get there,” Miller said. “It seems to me those people might cause the least amount of problems.”

Bass, 34, said his goal is to promote safe access “and share the stoke of Buff Pass.”

“They see me spreading that stoke as infringing on their operation,” he said. “I’m usually a pretty level-headed, quiet ski guide and now I’m talking to a reporter and I’m talking to a lawyer. I’m a nerd. I like snow science. I like weather. I like to shred. I didn’t get involved in the ski community to fight legal battles with other people who like to shred. I’m in the weirdest situation right now, man.”

Bass said he feels like he’s taking the blame for all the growth in traffic in recent years on Buffalo Pass.  

He worries that a lawsuit from an outfitter on public lands could set a precedent that spills over to climbing, mountaineering, rafting, mountain biking and hunting on public land, all of which have outfitters that offer guided experiences on Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands in the western U.S.

“I think this is so much bigger than me,” Bass said. “If someone spends years gaining knowledge of our public lands and when they try to share that knowledge, they can get sued, that’s crazy. This could have rolling ramifications for way more than skiing. I intend to fight this. We shouldn’t be bullied just because a commercial operator has deep pockets, especially when it comes to our public lands.”

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  • Are Colorado’s backcountry skiing stashes “trade secrets?” A snowcat outfitter suing a former guide claims they are.
  • Hickenlooper and Bennet look like twins, but they are expected to go different directions in Washington
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via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/09/steamboat-powdercats-lawsuit-backcountry-skiing-snowmobile-guidebook-buffalo-pass/

Hickenlooper and Bennet appear like twins but they are anticipated to go different directions in Washington

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In the U.S. Senate, Colorado is now represented by two politicians whose biographies are so similar they look identical at first glance.

U.S. Sen.-elect John Hickenlooper and Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet both graduated from Wesleyan University, a small liberal arts school in Connecticut. Both are East Coast transplants who made millions in business in Colorado before turning to politics. 

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Both men are moderate, pragmatic Democrats from Denver who have lived charmed political lives. They even worked together: Bennet helped get Hickenlooper elected Denver mayor in 2003, and then went to work as his chief of staff. 

Both were finalists for top jobs in Democratic administrations in Washington, and both waged long-shot bids for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination. 

“I think that relationship will be interesting,” said Alan Salazar, a longtime Democratic strategist who knows both men well. “Sen. Bennet will be the senior member of the delegation, and I think John will have some fun with that.”

“I think it will be a unique bond, one that we have never seen,” he added.

Another similarity: Both Hickenlooper and Bennet declined requests for interviews.

Bennet and Hickenlooper differ on style and substance

But spend any time with Hickenlooper, 68, and Bennet, 55, or talk to their closest associates and the differences between them — in personality, style and substance — become clear. 

Bennet’s intellectual curiosity and patience help him thrive on the minutiae and strategy of policymaking in Washington, even if the petty gamesmanship frustrates him at times. His top issue is education, given his prior tenure at Denver’s school superintendent. He enjoys the debate, even with those who disagree with him, and shys away from the pomp of the job. And he’s willing to break from his party.

Sen. Michael Bennet speaks to a crowd at the University of Denver as part of a discussion hosted by The Colorado Sun. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)

As his recent book makes evident, he’s a philosopher, a big thinker about American democracy. On Election Day, he said Colorado’s vote for Democrat Joe Biden “turned the page on Trumpism and ignited a new progessive era for America.”

Hickenlooper is more outgoing in terms of his personality, as his memoir makes evident, and his advisers talk about him like a brand. His days opening the state’s first brewpub helped give him the ability to talk and listen to anyone. Likewise, he wants to make every customer — or voter — happy, even though it can get him in trouble sometimes. 

A two-term governor, Hickenlooper enjoys attention that comes with the job. His top issue is the economy. In politics, he’s comfortable as an executive, relying on smart advisers to work out the details and guide his politics and policy. And he’s committed to political compromise.

“I will work with anyone and everyone to help Coloradans,” he said in his election night victory speech after beating Republican incumbent Cory Gardner 53% to 44%.

Hickenlooper will need to adapt to a new role as a lawmaker

How Hickenlooper adapts to the mundane lawmaking typical in the U.S. Senate and Washington is an open question. 

In the six years prior to announcing his bid for the office, he said more than a dozen times that he wasn’t interested in the job or wouldn’t like the legislative work. Instead, he said he’s a decision-maker and a leader. “I’m not cut out to be a senator,” he said at one point. 

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks to reporters on Aug. 22, 2019, the day he announced he was running for U.S. Senate. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Hickenlooper spent months eating his words during the contested Democratic primary as he tried to convince voters he actually wanted the job. 

He reiterated the message moments after winning the seat on Election Day. “I’m deeply committed to the job ahead,” he said.

On the campaign trail, Hickenlooper made economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic, addressing climate change and bringing civility to Washington his main themes. 

The transition from being an executive as governor to the legislative branch is a significant one. But his close allies said he’s a quick study.

“He didn’t know how to be a brew pub owner, either. He didn’t know how to be mayor or governor. But once he was in the role he has done a damn good job learning every single one of those,” said Roxane White, his former chief of staff. “I think he will bring that same desire to learn to the Senate.”

Ken Salazar, who served Colorado in the U.S. Senate until being tapped for President Barack Obama’s cabinet, said he thinks Hickenlooper’s business experience and executive leadership is a plus.

“That is a quality that we need in more of our elected officials and these very powerful positions,” Salazar said. “He didn’t have to go into politics. He didn’t have to run for mayor. He didn’t have to run for governor. You don’t do these things for the money. You do them because you believe in serving the community.”

Both Bennet and Hickenlooper were considered for the U.S. Senate seat Salazar vacated when he was named Interior secretary. Then-Gov. Bill Ritter picked Bennet for the job in 2009.

In a recent interview, Ritter said the transition from governor to lawmaker is challenging, but he’s confident Hickenlooper will be successful. “I know former governors who have done this,” Ritter said. “I think it’s tough. John will take counsel from a lot of people about the right way to do that.”

Bennet agreed. In a CBS4 Denver interview on Election Day, he said the two of them serving together “will be great.”

“John’s been a very successful mayor. He’s been a successful governor of Colorado, and a successful business person. I think he’ll bring all of that experience to D.C., and help us unsnarl the mess that’s there. I think that will be very welcome,” Bennet said.

Staff writer Jesse Paul contributed to this report.

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  • Are Colorado’s backcountry skiing stashes “trade secrets?” A snowcat outfitter suing a former guide claims they are.
  • Hickenlooper and Bennet look like twins, but they are expected to go different directions in Washington
  • Silverman: The election is over, but terrifying times continue
  • Why another statewide lockdown is unlikely, even as Colorado’s coronavirus situation worsens each day
  • Opinion: Why Bay Area tech workers should move to Denver

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/09/hickenlooper-bennet-us-senate/

Did you miss our previous article…

Spurred by the hazard of fires an Estes Park broadband job moved at the speed of light

Colorado News

As the Cameron Peak fire burned in the distance on the morning of Oct. 17, Josh Cramer sprung into action. He worried the fire might reach Estes Park and cause a literal meltdown that could wipe out the town’s internet, emergency lines and prevent reverse 9-1-1 calls. 

The town needed access to backup broadband. But where? And how?


Cramer, network architect at Trailblazer Broadband, began making calls and learned the Platte River Power Authority was worried about the same thing. One possible answer lay on the other side of the Continental Divide, where a new 481-mile internet line named Project Thor offered backup broadband to western Colorado. Cramer found the contact information for Nate Walowitz, who spearheaded Project Thor, and emailed him. 

“He calls me back 15 minutes later and we talk and he says, ‘Yeah, if you can get here, we can connect things up,’” Cramer said. 

By that evening, there’d been three conference calls with dozens of people representing power companies, local governments and internet services. Getting to Project Thor’s connection in Granby required locating available fiber along the way and gaining permission from various agencies, utilities and fiber owners — something that usually takes weeks, months and sometimes years to pull together. 

But something just clicked with everyone.

With the East Troublesome fire starting to stoke in the background on Oct. 21, 2020, internet fiber at the Windy Gap station in Granby was connected to new fiber line reaching to Estes Park. Josh Cramer, with Trailblazer Broadband in Estes Park, said when he left the facility, the wind was so strong, it had blown a a portable toilet in between his car and another one, scraping the sides of each vehicle. The toilet had been on the left side of the facility’s door. (Courtesy of Josh Cramer)

“There was just this mass collaborative effort of everyone just pitching in whatever was needed,” Cramer said. “And by that evening, we already had splicers dispatched to Estes Park to do the Western Slope slope side. And then on Sunday, the next day, we had splicers on the other side splicing, all the way to Granby.”

At least 16 organizations got together to contribute a piece to the emergency plan. There were no permits issued. Verbal agreements were made. People worked on the weekend. 

“It truly is an amazing story how we all worked together to pull this off,” said Walowitz, Regional Broadband Program Director for Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. “If any one of these partners hadn’t participated, this wouldn’t have happened.” 

Cramer drove out to Granby to help, marveling the whole time at how it all came together in one weekend. By the time he returned home a few days later, his wife told him they had less than an hour to evacuate. The East Troublesome fire had jumped the Continental Divide into Rocky Mountain National Park and was spreading quickly toward Estes Park. But he felt some relief that the communications lines stayed up and now that Estes Park has more than one redundant line. 

“The way I decompressed it all and thought about it is you’ve got a lot of great government agencies. They’ve got a lot of great processes. We’ve got a lot of good policies to follow,” Cramer said. “But at the end of the day, this was just humans helping humans try to survive.”

When the internet goes down 

Estes Park has at least four broadband providers, including Trailblazer Broadband, which is building out gigabit service to the community. Residents voted to allow the city to consider offering its own broadband service in 2015 and the town approved a $30 million bond to pay for it. Trailblazer is part of the city-owned Estes Park Utilities.

But if the main internet pipe into town accidentally got cut, the town would experience a complete communication outage. 

That happened during the floods of 2013, when the town’s fiber was washed away. A severe windstorm in 2016 caused further damage.

“Since the flood, we only had one fiber coming into town,” Cramer said. “And in 2016, a pretty good segment of that fiber was basically vaporized by a wind event and some high voltage power lines. There was another three-day blackout for folks up here where there was no 911 service, no cell service and literally no internet service in the entire town. People were back in the Stone Age, basically.”

In urban areas, there are multiple internet lines that run through cities so that if one goes down, several others step up. Typically, there’s a loop of fiber that runs in and out of a town and back to the main source. If one side gets cut, internet traffic goes the opposite direction and back to the main internet source.

But in rural areas, it’s difficult to attract private companies to build internet service when there are few people who would pay to use it. That’s why the federal government offers grants and loans to rural communities, like the recent USDA ReConnect awards to the Yampa Valley Electric Association and Emery Telcom to expand in northwest and southwest Colorado.

The state’s Department of Local Affairs also offers grants to local governments to build networks. Estes Park received one as it was researching municipal broadband, which is today’s Trailblazer Broadband.

But in emergencies, companies do seem to step up. Greg Winkler, the Northern Mountain Regional Manager for the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, credits Walowitz’s take-charge attitude and networking skills for the success of the Estes Park emergency line. And it wasn’t the only broadband project he helped with during the fires. Last week, Winkler was helping victims of the East Troublesome fire at the emergency operations center in Fraser.

“There was no good broadband service here so everyone was working at the emergency center trying to use hotspots,” Winkler said. “So I said to Nate, ‘Hey, can we do anything about better broadband?’”

Comcast stepped up and ran a fiber connection to the Grand Count center last week.

“If you come to Fraser and where you see the ice skating rink, if you drive up the road, there’s orange fiber strung through the fence now,” Winkler said.

Construction workers installing Project Thor fiber on Interstate 70 in Silverthorne. Project Thor is a 481-mile internet network built by the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. The project was completed in April 2020 for about $2.6 million. (Provided by Northwest Colorado Council of Governments)

But rural towns able to attract decent broadband service also suffer from the lack of redundant internet. If the main line gets cut, that means there could be no internet for days. That was the impetus for Project Thor, which was dreamt up by the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments more than two years ago. Internet outages sometimes took days to fix and were costly to the businesses in those towns.

Northwest COG essentially pieced together different companies’ “middle-mile” fiber, which sits between consumer internet service providers and the greater internet. It was a major task getting buy in from different organizations but the benefit was that partners could access reliable and often cheaper internet service. 

And where Northwest COG couldn’t find available middle-mile fiber, they built it themselves.

When Estes Park came calling on Oct. 17, Northwest COG welcomed them.

“This was an emergency. And when Nate said, ‘Can we do this? I said, ‘I’m not going to get in the way,’” said Jon Stavney, Northwest COG’s executive director. “The good news is Estes Park didn’t burn and now they have resiliency. From an infrastructure point of view, this is why you have a coordinator like Nate.” 

How to build broadband in an emergency

Walowitz has been helping rural communities access faster broadband for years, so he knew a lot of people.

The 481-mile Project Thor network, which went live last spring, has one of its main hubs at the Middle Park Health hospital in Granby, the closest point to Estes Park.

Connecting the two communities wound up involving more than a dozen government agencies and organizations, including several utility and power companies, a federal agency and private companies and competitors.  

Josh Cramer, network architect for Trailblazer Broadband in Estes Park, said he took this picture “the moment that we first lit the circuit between Estes and Granby.” The green lights are link lights. The new back-up fiber line gave Estes Park residents, businesses and emergency personal another line of communication in case the fires took out existing broadband. (Courtesy of Josh Cramer)

CenturyLink, which changed its name to Lumen this year, also provides internet service in Estes Park. It was already working with the Platte River Power Authority to resolve the backup problem in the event the Cameron Peak fire moves closer. The company shared with the group that it had fiber near to another line owned by the Western Area Power Administration, or WAPA, an arm of the U.S. Department of Energy that markets and delivers power generated by 57 hydropower plants to a 15-state region. 

“We knew it was available but there were restrictions on commercial communications use around those facilities. However, earlier this year, WAPA relaxed those restrictions and began allowing commercial use of their fibers,” said Tim Kunkleman, Lumen’s director of government affairs, who said the company was also interested in getting redundant lines for that community. 

Walowitz had been eying the WAPA fiber, which runs through the Alva B. Adams Tunnel, which runs from the east side of Grand Lake to the southwest edge of Estes Park. Accessing it would help extend Project Thor. But Walowitz said he was never able to get WAPA’s attention. 

“We’ve known about this for years, but there was never any way to really get the conversation fully engaged. And because it goes under federal land and everything else, it had some challenges,” Walowitz said. 

The threat of fires changed that. WAPA granted access to its fiber in the tunnel within hours. Walowitz then worked on piecing together the other side of the tunnel to reach Granby. 

“Meanwhile, on the west side of the connection over in Granby, we were working with WAPA and the local power company, Mountain Parks Electric, as well as CenturyLink, to figure out how we could connect where the WAPA fiber stops,” he said, “so we can connect to the hospital, Middle Park Health.”

Northern Water provided use of its fiber near Granby. The Platte River Power Authority worked with Larimer Emergency Telephone Authority and CenturyLink to support reverse 911 through the connection. 

It didn’t end there. They also made sure the new line through Estes Park was a loop by connecting it to the city of Fort Collins’ municipal broadband service, Connexion, which in turn was connected to Project Thor’s main connection in Denver.

“We created a loop,” Walowitz said.

The fires never reached Estes Park, although the East Troublesome fire came close to both Estes Park and Granby. Partners in the project hope that the line is here to stay, though that will be up to WAPA. 

“Now we have a redundant system that I hope everyone would see the value in and say let’s make sure it stays here,” Winkler said.

In this era, if the internet goes down even for a day, that means students can’t log into remote learning and adults can’t work remotely. It could shut down emergency lines and leave a community vulnerable, which is still the case in many rural communities. A backup line helps any community, and also can be tapped to support networks from Lumen and Project Thor.

“Getting this circuit through here is really about improving public safety and maintaining connectivity in the face of whatever might happen to us,” said Cramer, who started the process in Estes Park. “There’s an interest in us keeping it in place, and you can look at Grand Lake and Granby and all those communities on the other side. We can be their backup connection on this side as well. People are thinking about that because they were in the same situation as us.”

More: Stories on rural broadband in Colorado

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  • Spurred by the threat of fires, an Estes Park broadband project moved at the speed of light
  • Are Colorado’s backcountry skiing stashes “trade secrets?” A snowcat outfitter suing a former guide claims they are.
  • Hickenlooper and Bennet look like twins, but they are expected to go different directions in Washington
  • Silverman: The election is over, but terrifying times continue
  • Why another statewide lockdown is unlikely, even as Colorado’s coronavirus situation worsens each day

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/09/fires-estes-park-broadband-emergency-communication/

ispace US Head office to land in Denver location

more news https://northdenvernews.com

Google Lunar XPRIZE competition finalist eyes Colorado’s highly skilled talent for new aerospace jobs

 Today, ispace, inc. announced that it has selected Colorado as the location for its newest office. The company will open its new U.S.-based workplace in the Denver metropolitan area.

“Colorado is a proven leader in the aerospace sector and one of the best places to live and to start or run a business. ispace joins Adams County’s Spaceport and Colorado Springs’ Space Command to further reinforce that the path to space exploration and the good paying jobs that come with it goes through Colorado,” said Governor Jared Polis. 

Colorado’s aerospace industry density, highly skilled workforce, and job growth incentives were key considerations in the ispace decision. The Denver Metro region is more competitive and more attractive than competing markets in part due to lower costs associated with market entry as well as the strong partnership between the State, local economic development partners and the industry.

“Colorado’s dynamic aerospace ecosystem and abundance of talent strongly align with our aggressive hiring plan,” said ispace CEO Kyle Acierno. “As we evaluated locations, we were also impressed by Colorado’s inclusive, collaborative environment and its leadership in the space industry. This process has been smooth, and we are deeply appreciative of the local, state and federal partnerships that supported our headquarter search.”

The new ispace headquarters will be located in the greater Metro Denver area and house its executive management, sales and marketing, and R&D activity. Growth opportunities for subsequent manufacturing needs are also under consideration.

“ispace is a natural fit with Colorado’s robust aerospace sector,” said OEDIT Executive Director Betsy Markey. “Colorado earns the largest number of NASA and US Government contracts outside of Washington, DC and our talented workforce enables growth. Given the role that the ispace lunar lander is poised to play in continued space transport and discovery, the future for ispace and Colorado’s aerospace sector is bright.”

ispace’s Colorado based US headquarters joins company operations in Luxembourg and Japan to provide ispace with a physical presence in all three original signatory countries of the Artemis Accords – an international agreement for cooperative civil space exploration. 

With the announced hiring of U.S. Lander Program Director Kursten O’Neill, previously with SpaceX, ispace has begun its hiring process and is commencing its Colorado operations.   

via Straight News https://northdenvernews.com/ispace-us-headquarters-to-land-in-denver-area/

Colorado has an active volcano as well as its a large pointer of Mother Natures explosive may

Colorado News

By Seth Boster, The Gazette

DOTSERO — At the base of Colorado’s lone active volcano is a small mobile home park, where on this day a resident offers a fair warning to a pair of curious visitors.

“Is it four-wheel drive?” he asks. He bends down to scoop dark soil that crumbles in his hands. “We have a lot of this stuff, see?”

The stuff is left over from Dotsero’s eruption, estimated to be 4,200 years ago. This was back when the Egyptian pyramids were being built. Back when native tribes roamed this land that appeared much like it does today, the mountains and streams stretching west to what is now called Glenwood Canyon.

According to legend, the name “Dotsero” came from a native term meaning “something new.” Those first residents would have witnessed this modest summit heaving, coughing ash and bleeding lava.

Now travelers of Interstate 70 see the fossilized flow beside the road and behold those ominous, red slopes above. They can exit for a rugged track that, true to local warning, can be treacherous on the way up to the crater.

“A gnarly little drive,” says James Hagadorn, curator of geology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. “It’s pretty cool once you get in there, though. It’s like a little oasis. A volcanic oasis.”

It’s now a sage-covered pit measuring 2,460 feet (750 meters) wide and 250 feet (76 meters) deep, per the U.S. Geological Survey, which defines any volcano “active” for any eruption within 10,000 years. At first, the crater’s depth might’ve been 1,300 feet (396 meters), the USGS reports.

Today, “Dotsero remains a mysterious anomaly in the Rockies,” as Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, prone to natural curiosities, put it in an informative string of tweets last year. Today the site serves as a reminder of Mother Nature’s explosive might.

Of course, there are stark, lingering memories of Mount St. Helens, that cataclysmic blast 40 years ago that claimed 57 souls in Washington. Thousands of other mammals perished, millions of trees were leveled and ash flung to towns hundreds of miles away.

(Photo by Jeffrey Beall, via Flickr)

If Dotsero were to blow in our lifetime, “it would be like if Mount St. Helens went off in our state,” says Christian Shorey, assistant department head of geology at Colorado School of Mines. Though, he says, it would be at a smaller scale. In terms of volcanoes, Dotsero is more “cute” than fierce, he says.

Volcanoes have different styles, Hagadorn says. “Mount St. Helens has that build-up, explosive style, whereas Dotsero, maybe it builds and does a poof, but it might ooze quite a bit more.”

It might ooze and, as it once did, cause a build-up in what is now the Eagle River.

“I-70 would be closed for at least one year,” reckons Charles Stern, the University of Colorado-based earth scientist. And air traffic could be impacted as well, with Dotsero potentially belching smoke and debris high in the sky.

For all of these possibilities, the USGS deems Dotsero a “moderate” threat. A 2018 government report on the nation’s volcanoes ranked Dotsero 82nd on the risk list, which is topped by Kilauea in Hawaii and Mounts St. Helens and Rainier in Washington, followed largely by other sleeping giants in the Cascades and Alaska.

Rest assured, scientists roundly agree Dotsero isn’t about to wake. Just as they agree the Yellowstone caldera isn’t about to — though its gurgling and gas is being closely monitored. Yellowstone is the only Rocky Mountain region representative worthy of the USGS’ “high” threat level, ranking No. 21 on the list.

“You would get an ash cloud blocking the sun over most of the country for a while,” Shorey says. “You’d have an immediate death zone just from the blast waves and level of ash and whatnot. And Denver, I’ve read, is just on the edge of that.”

Yes, this woe-strewn year of 2020 would seem fitting for such an event.

But while in a time of pandemic, political and social strife, and bigger, hotter and longer-lasting wildfires, we are far removed from the age of volcanoes.

“If I had my magic wish, if I could rub the genie lamp and invent that time-traveling helicopter,” Hagadorn says, “it would be back to 30 to 50 million years ago. Because this was volcano city.”

Read more outdoors stories from The Colorado Sun.

This was when perhaps the planet’s largest volcanic phenomenon was happening in what is now southwest Colorado. Spanning 22 miles (35 kilometers) wide and 62 miles (100 kilometers) long and visible from outer space, the San Juan volcanic field represents a series of explosions believed to be 5,000 times the scale of Mount St. Helens’ outburst in 1980.

Another Pompeii-like occasion was centered west of modern-day Colorado Springs. Volcanoes spewed avalanches of lava and ash that entombed the sequoias and other ancient specimens now on display at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.

For other volcanic remnants, look to North and South Table mountains in Golden. Or to the cliffs of the Flat Tops in the state’s northwest. Or to Pikes and Longs peaks, among iconic monoliths made of granites that formed below volcanoes.

The Dotsero volcano in western Colorado. (via Creative Commons)

Volcanoes were instrumental in shaping the Colorado landscape we admire today — not to mention instrumental in delivering the gold that put the state on the map and the hot springs we enjoy.

Atop Dotsero, one can only imagine the forces at work below. These are “dynamic” forces, Hagadorn says. “It’s like climate. There’s no static climate, and there’s no static volcanoes or tectonics.”

Still, there are no disturbing signs of eruption here. “But if you’re worried,” Hagadorn says, “just drive by really fast.”

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  • Colorado has an active volcano, and it’s a big reminder of Mother Nature’s explosive might
  • Spurred by the threat of wildfires, an Estes Park broadband project moved at the speed of light
  • Are Colorado’s backcountry skiing stashes “trade secrets”? A snowcat outfitter suing a former guide claims they are.
  • Hickenlooper and Bennet seem like twins, but they are expected to go different directions in Washington
  • Silverman: The election is over, but terrifying times continue

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/09/dotsero-volcano-colorado-active/

Did you miss our previous article…

Darrell Wall guilty of sexually assaulting five women in Lakewood

Colorado News

Following four days of trial, a Jefferson County jury found Darrell Eugene Wall, DOB: 1-24-70, guilty on all counts for sexually assaulting five women he lured into his van and RV, by offering them a ride or a warm, dry place to sleep.  On October 29, 2020 the jury returned guilty verdicts on two counts of Sexual Assault (F3), one count of Unlawful Sexual Contact with Force (F4), and two counts of Unlawful Sexual Contact (M1). 

In October, 2019 Lakewood Police were contacted by a woman who said she had been sexually assaulted and was able to identify Darrell Wall as her assailant. Lakewood opened an investigation and identified additional women who reported that they had also been sexually assaulted by Wall between June, 2018 and November, 2019.

According to witness testimony, the five women were all loosely acquainted with Wall, having met him along the W. Colfax corridor in Lakewood. The women were particularly vulnerable, most of them experiencing homelessness, mental health issues, and drug or alcohol addiction.

“Wall preyed on the vulnerability of these women who were struggling to get by,” said DA Pete Weir. “They showed great courage as they each took the stand and testified about what had happened to them, allowing us to hold Mr. Wall accountable and stop these assaults on women in the future.”

Sentencing has been set for January 7, 2021.

via Straight News https://northdenvernews.com/darrell-wall-guilty-of-sexually-assaulting-five-women-in-lakewood/

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Denver-based VF Corp adds NYCs Supreme to its slick brand roster

By Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press

The company that owns niche brands like The North Face and Vans is adding to that portfolio with Supreme, a slick streetwear fashion brand.

VF Corp. had already been organizing collaborations between Supreme and its Vans, The North Face and Timberland brands.

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed Monday.

With the Supreme acquisition, VF is strengthening its online and direct-to-consumer business. While Supreme operates slick stores in places like Manhattan’s Bowery and the Williamsburg neighborhood across the river in Brooklyn, online and direct-to-consumer sales are its strength.

Supreme is expected to add modestly to VF’s revenue and adjusted earnings per share in 2021. It is expected to contribute at least $500 million in revenue and 20 cents per share of adjusted earnings next year.

Shares of Denver-based VF Corp. jumped more than 13% in afternoon trading along with broader markets in news of the development of a potential vaccine for COVID-19.

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  • Denver-based VF Corp adds NYC’s Supreme to its slick brand roster
  • Colorado has an active volcano, and it’s a big reminder of Mother Nature’s explosive might
  • Spurred by the threat of wildfires, an Estes Park broadband project moved at the speed of light
  • Are Colorado’s backcountry skiing stashes “trade secrets”? A snowcat outfitter suing a former guide claims they are.
  • Hickenlooper and Bennet seem like twins, but they are expected to go different directions in Washington

via Straight News https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/09/vf-corp-buys-supreme-colorado/

Colorado remains to change blue: The 2020 election described in graphics

more news https://northdenvernews.com

Colorado’s political map is looking more and more blue.

The 2020 election continued the decades-long shift toward Democrats in Colorado, led by voters in suburban counties and punctuated by huge turnout in the party’s strongholds of Denver and Boulder

A preview of this story appeared in The Unaffiliated, the political newsletter from The Colorado Sun. Join now or upgrade your membership to get exclusive political news and insights first.

“Colorado is officially blue. Not purple, not periwinkle, not powder blue,” says Steve Welchert, a veteran Democratic strategist. “Will the GOP claw back seats and races from time to time? Sure. But this is not a temporary shift.”

The landscape gave Joe Biden the largest presidential victory for any candidate since 1984 and carried John Hickenlooper into the U.S. Senate by the biggest margin in more than a decade.

A deep-dive into the numbers shows that one-time swing counties in the Denver metro area are now solidly Democratic and big Republican counties are no longer bright red beacons as voters moved away from President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.

Here are six graphics that help explain what happened in the 2020 election in Colorado.

The scale of the shift toward the Democratic Party is most evident when the 2020 presidential election is compared to the 2016 contest.

In 2020, Biden beat Trump by 13 percentage points, preliminary results show. Four years earlier, Democrat Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by 4.9 percentage points.

The Democratic vote increased in 40 of the state’s 64 counties in 2020, a Colorado Sun analysis shows. The largest shifts came in the Denver suburbs of Jefferson and Broomfield counties, as well as a couple of smaller mountain communities.

In these areas, and elsewhere, an influx of new residents, changing voter demographics that don’t favor Republicans and a dislike of Trump helped push the Democratic vote totals higher.

The most noticeable difference is how Trump’s vote totals shrank in Republican-heavy counties. In El Paso — home to conservative hub Colorado Springs — Trump’s margin of victory this year sat near 11 percentage points compared to 22 percentage points four years ago. In Douglas County to the south of Denver, it went from an 18-point win to a 7-point margin.

The 2020 vote suggests the days are gone when big Republican vote totals in El Paso and Douglas counties neutralized the big Democratic numbers in Denver and Boulder.

“Historically Denver and El Paso canceled each other out, as did Douglas and Boulder — then we’d battle over the (suburbs) and Larimer. This is a tectonic shift,” Welchert, the Democratic consultant, said..

In 2016, Trump won five counties that backed President Barack Obama four years earlier. Two of those counties — Pueblo and Chaffee — flipped to Biden, and three stayed in Trump’s column: Conejos, Huerfano and Las Animas. Trump also won Alamosa County, which voted Democratic in 2012 and 2016.

Not too long ago, the conventional wisdom in Colorado politics went like this: “As goes JeffCo, goes the state.” 

No more. Jefferson County, located on the western side of Denver, is no longer a bellwether. In fact, Democrats more than doubled their margin of victory in the county in the 2020 presidential race, compared to four years ago.

Likewise, other Denver metro counties — Arapahoe, Adams and Broomfield — are solidly Democratic by double-digit margins, the presidential vote shows. Larimer County, where Fort Collins is located, similarly shifted from a roughly 6 percentage points Democratic advantage in 2012 to a 16-point mainstay in the blue column. A strong turnout from women and unaffiliated voters helped lead the push.

“I think it is just generally indicative of the shift across the state,” said Andrew Struttmann, a Republican strategist.

The remaining swing counties — those that shifted between Democrats and Republicans in races at the top of the ballot — all offer much smaller troves of votes. Pueblo County, the largest at 119,000 registered voters, picked Trump in 2016 and then Biden this year, both by small margins.

The remaining seven counties that flipped back and forth total about 100,000 registered voters, the largest being Garfield, Chaffee and Grand counties.

In the U.S. Senate race, Gardner ran into similar political headwinds. 

Six years ago, the Republican upset Democratic incumbent Mark Udall by 2 percentage points, 48% to 46%. In 2020, Gardner lost to Hickenlooper, the former Democratic governor, by 9 points, 53% to 44%.

The differences between the two battles are substantial. Gardner won in a midterm election that leaned toward Republicans — the party out-of-power in the White House — but he ran for reelection in a year where Democrats were favored. Moreover, the state’s new voters aligned with Democrats and skewed younger.

MORE: 5 numbers that show why 2020 was never going to be an easy year for Cory Gardner in Colorado

The turnabout is most apparent in the Denver suburbs. In 2014, the counties that ring the capital city all favored Udall, but Gardner kept margins close, no larger than a 3 percentage point Democratic advantage. Jefferson County was practically tied.

In 2020, Hickenlooper won all the same counties by 13 points or more. He even shrank Gardner’s advantages in Republican counties such as El Paso, Douglas and Mesa by double digits — shifts of 14, 16 and 11 points, respectively.

The Hickenlooper campaign’s pollster, Anna Greenberg of GQR, said the attacks leveled against the candidate just didn’t stick because his two terms as governor solidified his image in Colorado. “He was not just well known and well liked, he’s the kind of person that people thought they could hang out with,” she said.

Colorado’s seven congressional districts help show where the state stands politically. 

The Democratic vote increased in three seats, giving the party larger margins of victory in the 1st and 6th districts and closing the GOP edge in the 3rd District. Republican Lauren Boebert’s vote total over Democratic challenger Diane Mitsch Bush in the vast Western Slope district is the smallest in four election cycles.

Elsewhere, Democrats appeared to hit a wall after the huge 2018 blue wave. The party’s victories were smaller than two years ago in the 2nd and 7th districts. And in the 4th and 5th districts, Republicans increased their margins compared to 2018.

The congressional numbers will serve as the benchmark for the 2022 election, when Colorado is expected to debut a new district and shuffle the boundaries for the existing ones. The state plans to begin drawing new district maps in 2021 as part of the decennial reapportionment.

Struttman, the GOP strategist, said the redistricting process gives his party hope. “We have nowhere to go but up because there aren’t that many places left to lose,” he said. “While that sounds extremely pessimistic, that is a place to rebuild.”

One of the fascinating dynamics of the 2016 election was a focus on third party candidates as an alternative to Trump and Clinton. This is particularly true in Colorado, which led the “Never Trump” movement at the Republican National Convention.

In the November election, 8.6% of voters cast a ballot for a third party candidate in Colorado — nearly twice Clinton’s margin of victory.

But come 2020, that dynamic shifted back to normal. Only 2.6% of voters picked a third party candidate. And this came despite rapper Kanye West’s candidacy, which was seen as an attempt to pull votes from Biden.

“Without a doubt Tuesday night’s results were a thumping shellacking for America’s third parties,” said Bill Hammons, a Colorado resident and the Unity Party’s presidential candidate.

The record turnout in Colorado included huge numbers of young voters. 

The largest group of voters were between ages 25 and 34, according to returned ballot data from the Secretary of State’s Office, with nearly 580,000 ballots. The second highest ballot count came from the 55 to 64 age bracket.

“We saw that young people were extremely motivated to turnout this election,” said Nicole Hensel, the executive director of New Era Colorado, a progressive youth civic engagement organization. 

The protests about racial justice helped drive the interest, she added. And the higher numbers came after election officials added more ballot drop-off boxes, including on college campuses.

When it comes to a proportion of the population, demographic numbers still give older voters the edge. Nearly 9 in 10 voters ages 65 to 74 cast ballots, the highest turnout percentage by age group in the 2020 election.

Rising Sun

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